In an attack, most people do not have easy access to a weapon, so it is crucial to know basic self-defense skills. In Forsyth County, the sheriff’s office is working hard to help the female population defend themselves in case of an emergency.
For the past 10 years, the department has been offering free self-defense classes throughout Forsyth County to any woman who is interested.
Cpl. Doug Rainwater, a public information officer who has taught the class, said at first, the program was offered in conjunction with neighborhood watch events. A lot of the women who attended asked about self-defense classes targeted for women.
“We live in a bubble,” he said. “We think all the bad news and stories we hear aren’t happening here. We don’t really think about our own environment. But it only takes a few minutes for a bad guy to drive to the suburbs and do something bad. We want to make females think about their surrounding environment whenever they’re out by themselves.”
As the neighborhood watch classes became more popular, the concept evolved into its own class that any woman in the area could attend. The sheriff’s office partnered with Forsyth County Parks and Recreation to host the classes at county recreation centers.
Since then, the classes typically max out at capacity, with as many as 100 women participating.
“This is the most popular class we teach at the sheriff’s office,” Rainwater said. “Neighborhood watch is still important, but due to social media, a lot of neighborhoods can get their information from us on Facebook.”
The two-hour self-defense class is free and features deputies describing incidents from the past, in which local females have been raped and killed.
“We showcase real, true-life events that have taken the lives of these females,” Rainwater said. “We go one step further and try to instill in the females that at every moment of every day, you have to be very confident of your surroundings. Whether it’s jogging in your subdivision, walking on trails on Sawnee Mountain, you have to be aware of everything that’s happening around you.”
The stories told during the class focus on women who were either distracted by a device or were unable to defend themselves.
“We try to emphasize that jogging or walking by yourself, in this county especially, is fine,” Rainwater said. “But make sure when you are out walking or jogging, that you don’t have ear plugs in your ears, so you are able to hear your surroundings or someone walking up behind you. Make sure you have a plan, so if a car does pull up behind you, you know what to do. We discuss all these different plans for what people to do.”
After highlighting what could go wrong, deputies show the women how to use their own bodies for self-defense during the physical portion of the class.
“We teach them how to defend themselves momentarily, until they can get away to run for help,” Rainwater said. “We realize the typical female cannot overpower the average male. We’re too physically different. We’re trying to make sure the women know enough moves that if a man does grab you, you can do certain things to him to give you a moment to break away and run. Our aim is not to teach you how to beat someone up; but if you’re caught in a position by yourself and the male has bad intentions and places his hands on you, we want to give you the tools you need to seek help.”
To find the next women’s self-defense class, visit facebook.com/ForsythCountySO.